Tuesday, 27 October 2009

What was I thinking?

I've been interested in having a go at it for years. Can't recall how many exactly, but last year it would have been insane to try with a two month old baby and the year before was crazy enough with the million things I was doing anyway (like finishing 2nd degree, teaching at TAFE, producing magazine, preparing for 2 week camping trip).

So, now I've finally plunged into the acceptance and enrolment stage of NaNoWriMo, I'm not really sure why I'm suddenly starting to have that WTF was I thinking feeling?

Perhaps it's that November begins in just 4 days. Perhaps it's because I feel like I haven't done enough planning and my head isn't in the right space (yet). Perhaps it's because I haven't even made a schedule for when I'll sit down to write. Perhaps it's just because so many other writers seem to be so far ahead, much more prepared, or perhaps it's just because it's the kind of thing that's bound to produce a bit (or a lot) of anxiety.

I mean, 50,000 words is a lot of words. 30 days ain't so many days. And it's so like me to make a decision like this without necessarily thinking it through. That is, after all, the way page seventeen started.

Yet I did kind of feel like I had thought this one through. Before I signed up, I asked myself how I'd feel if I failed to complete, or win, the challenge. I decided that rather than think of it has having failed, I'd come away feeling good about what I did manage to achieve. Assuming I gave it a fair effort, of course. And it seemed like that was all that had to be decided.

Other than making a schedule of when I'd write, because I just wouldn't be me if I didn't do something as anally retentive as that. Because of course, I won't be writing when the kids are in my care. Which is my life for a large portion of NaNo time (just like every other month). As a general rule, that leaves me with writing time during school hours on Thursdays and Fridays. Which, especially given the first week will mostly be spent preparing for the launch of page seventeen Issue 7, doesn't seem like nearly enough time.

Sure, there will be evenings, and some weekend time, but I don't like the uncertainty of relying on being awake enough to write late (particularly if Dylan continues to wake at 5.30am), or for the Nano experience to eat into family time (or to reneg on attending so many fab book launches).

Which kind of brings me to another aspect of NaNo that I've noticed so many people doing. Setting personal guidelines.

For instance, I'm happy to sacrifice TV time, but not family/husband time, I'll head for the library/cafe if home offers too many distractions, an extra double espresso on writing days will be fine, I'll sacrifice any household chores that aren't absolutely necessary (which may not sound like anything different), etc. I'm not trying to suggest these are my guidelines, as I haven't got as far as making some, but these are examples of what mine might be like. With the exception that the housework one will be a definite priority. Writing must come before the vacuum cleaner.

There are two things I have decided on though. They both involve the kids.

One is that the littlies can have one full time week at creche, which they will absolutely love, and the other is to organise schoolboy to go home with a friend for each of the Fridays, which will give me an extra two hours a week. (I will probably swap the favour for another day that I don't expect to be writing.)

As for the preparation, I've been trying to tell myself it doesn't matter. That I'll be in my character's head in no time, because that's how it usually works. That even though I don't feel like I'm in the right space, I did enough work months ago to feel secure that it's all there. That I've done fine in the past without necessarily knowing where a story's going, what's going to happen next.

Oh, and I've decided too that I'll use first person. Because I love first person. It fits well within my comfort zone. And is probably the best choice for the story anyway. Even though so many people have suggested third (I may ponder this further sometime.)

Anyway, get your purple pom-poms ready, because I know I'm going to need a few cheers every now and then. But not until I get back from camping on the 3rd (with at least a few thousand words down... right?)... or maybe even before November begins. Eeek.


Maxine said...

My Pom Poms are raised already Tiggy. You are truly a wonderwoman. And crazy starts always make the most powerful finishes.

Tiggy Johnson said...

Thanks for your support Maxine. I suspect you have some of your own wonderwoman traits too.

Laurie Steed said...

I see it this way: You've already achieved a lot this year, and whatever happens during NaNoWriMo, it has to set you up for a world-beating 2010, right?

Go Tiggy! May the words erupt onto the page : )

Tiggy Johnson said...

Hey Laurie, that is kind of true. Except I have no idea how I will ever manage to do more next year than I have this year.

Not that I have to :)


Lisa said...

Well Tiggy, you know I will be furiously waving my purple pom poms while laying on the beach right? ;)
Seriously, as much as I'm looking forward to this holiday I'm a little jealous that I'm not joining in the NaNo maddness.
But holiday or not, I 'will' be writing...
Good Luck!!

Tiggy Johnson said...

Thanks Lisa. Be sure to enjoy lying on that beach. You can do NaNo next year :)